Monday, January 28, 2013

Herb Roasted Sweet Potato and Rutabaga Soup

So I have started ordering from a organic wholesale club. You pay a share and they give you a huge box of organic produce. Some local, some not. Works great for me because I get really bored with just in season produce. The value and quality is amazing.

One interesting part is it gives you stuff you might not have bought on your own.

Like rutabaga.

Weird ugly thing. Never tried it before.

I was missing out! Its very good! Try it!

Anyway, this was a fast, easy, and very flavorful soup. Even my non sweet potato living husband liked it!

Herb Roasted Sweet Potato and Rutabaga Soup


1 large sweet potato. Peeled and cubed
1 rutabaga. Peeled and cubed
1 onion, peeled and quartered (don't cut the ends off. That way it stays together)
1 head of garlic
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or veggie)
green onions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400
Cut the top off a head of garlic. Rub with some oil and wrap in tin foil.
Toss sweet potato and rutabaga in the oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.
Oil onions
Place roots and onion on a baking sheet. Keep it in a even layer. Place tin foil wrapped garlic on sheet too

Bake 30-45 minutes until fork tender. If its not browned by the time its cooked through, turn on the broiler for 2 minutes or so.

Let garlic cool 10 minutes. Unwrap and squeeze soft garlic out.

Place half the veggies, the garlic and the chicken stock in a bowl and blend with a stick blender (or use a blender or food processor)

Add in the veggie chunks and heat in a sauce pan.

Garnish with some green onion.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homemade Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, and "Yogurt Cheese"

So, this has been something I have been wanting to try for a while. It really is incredibly easy. And cheap.

It takes a while, but the actual hands on part is brief.

If you have ever had organic yogurt, you see that its a little runnier than traditional yogurt. This is that consistency. So some people might like to turn it into Greek yogurt. But keep in mind this will cut the amount of yogurt you get in half.

I have heard that one of the key things is to make sure your milk is just pasteurized, not ultra. (lots of organic I have come across is ultra). I can't remember the source, so take it as you will. Its not that hard to follow the tip though, so why not?

You can use raw as well, but you might want to only heat it to 120 or so, otherwise you would basically kill anything raw about it.

There are LOTS of methods out there. I have only tried this one. And it worked just great! I might try other ways later on, so keep posted as I might edit this post.

You can also half this recipe if you wish. My son can go through a 32oz container of yogurt in 6-7 days, so I go big or go home :). Also, this should last 3-4 weeks in the fridge.



1 gallon milk (I used a good quality organic whole milk yogurt. About $6)
3 tbsp good quality plain yogurt with active cultures (I used Stoneyfield Whole Plain)

Tools needed for this method:

Large stock pot
thermometer (I used a candy thermometer but my digital meat thermometer worked too!)
4 quart mason jars
a funnel would have made life easier, but I managed without
a small cooler
a blanket

Pour gallon of milk into the stock pot. Heat over medium to 180, stirring often. Especially towards the end. I let the milk on the bottom burn a bit, so I had to strain it. No huge deal.

This will take a while. 15-20 minutes or so. I emptied and loaded the dishwasher during this step.

Once its 180, remove from heat and place in sink half full of ice water.
Annnnd this was the day before I deep cleaned the sink. So glad I captured that for all time....

Monitor temperature and stir often until it reaches 120. This won't take as long 3-5 minutes. Don't go too far away!

Whisk in yogurt well.

Ladle into very clean jars. Put lids on.

Run hot water in the sink for a few minutes until its the hottest it goes.

Place jars into cooler and fill to brim level with water. Close cooler and wrap with blanket.

Let sit 7-8 hours.

Do not open or stir or shake. Put into fridge and let cool for at least 8 hours.

Open and enjoy.

A little honey and vanilla is great with this!

Or cook a cup and a half of strawberries and blueberries with a few tbsp of honey. Cook on medium low until nice and syrupy. Mash and cool. Add to yogurt for a mixed berry flavor!

For Greek yogurt:

You need a metal strainer and either cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

Scoop yogurt into the filter lined strainer. Place over a bowl and put into the fridge for around 4 hours. Check to make sure the whey (liquid draining off) doesn't reach the bottom of the strainer.

You can use the whey for a lot of things. I don't really know what at this point, but google it. Lots of good things out there.

For "yogurt cheese" (very very similar to cream cheese):

Take Greek yogurt a bit further and strain overnight.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Zucchini Lasagna

Sometimes you just have to make something different. Even if you already make a mean lasagna already, sometimes you get a wild hair to do something different. Like use zucchini slices instead of pasta.

You could easily make this fully vegetarian. Just straight up omit the meat. Adding mushrooms instead might be a good idea!

Zucchini Lasagna

3-4 zucchini (I used 3, I think it could have used more!)
1 lb lean hamburger
1 onion, diced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 small jar roasted red bell pepper, drained
4 garlic cloves
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
1 15oz container ricotta (I really prefer whole, not part skim or fat free. Ick)
1 egg
4 oz cream cheese (I like the 1/3rd fat one) room temp
1.5 cups mozzarella

Slice the zucchini into 1/8th inch slices. Mandolin's are your best friend. There is a GREAT one on Amazon for like $20

Lay on a clean dish towel. Salt a bit (allllll over) and let sit 20 minutes. Dab off salt and moisture. Flip and repeat.

Cook hamburger and onion until cooked through. Drain.

In a blender (or food processor, or in a bowl with a stick blender) mix the crushed tomatoes, garlic, and red bell peppers. Blend until smooth. Don't go too crazy though

Combine tomato mix, diced tomatoes, herbs, and cooked meat.

Mix ricotta, egg, and cream cheese well.

Put a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Put a even layer of zucchini slices.
Smear some ricotta mix (this part sucks. Accept it and move on)
Repeat until done, ending with sauce.

Layer with cheese.
Cover with tin foil and cook at 375 for about 45 minutes and then uncovered for 15

Cool for at least 5-10 minutes

Friday, January 18, 2013

Easy Mexican Rice

A really fast and easy side dish to mexican meals. You can sub quinoa for the rice. You can also make this on the stove like you would make other rice. I just don't have the specifics for that because I have to use a rice cooker otherwise I ruin it, haha.

Easy Mexican Rice


1.5 cups rice
1 can drained Rotel tomatoes and chilis
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)
pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups water or chicken stock

Add all these ingredients to the rice cooker or pot and cook!

Fluff and serve

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oven Baked Chimichangas with a Queso Blanco Sauce

You can make this vegetarian with just beans and cheese. Or this is a great way to use leftover chicken. Or you can buy a rotisserie chicken to use for this. Or you can throw a couple chicken breasts into a crock pot for the day. Any way you do it, its pretty simple and easy. You can leave the sauce off. But its super yummy :) You can use less chicken and more beans if you want to spread the meat out a little too. Pinto beans are also very yummy in this.

The cheese sauce was inspired by our latest outing to a local mexican restaurant where they drenched the chimichangas in yummy queso.

Oven Baked Chimichangas


2-3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded. About 1.5-2 cups cooked chicken.
1 cup salsa
2 tsp cumin
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or a mexi blend)
2 green onions, chopped green and whites
1 can black beans, drained
8 8 inch flour tortillas
4 tbsp melted butter

Plus toppings:
Sour cream
Guacamole or avocado chunks
Queso Blanco Sauce, recipe below

Preheat oven to 400
Mix chicken, salsa, cumin, cheese, green onions, and beans.
Spoon 1/8 of the filling into a tortilla. Tuck in the ends and roll tight to make a little pocket. It doesn't need to be perfect.

Place seam side down. Repeat 7 more times

Brush with melted butter.

Bake for around 25 minutes until starting to get brown and crispy.

(my big pan was in the fridge, so I had to use 2 small ones)

Queso Blanco Sauce

a splash of oil
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1 jalapeƱo, diced fine
16 oz white american cheese (I got it at the deli and tore the slices up)
2-4 slices provolone (optional)
1/3rd-2/3rds cup half and half or cream
1 roma tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or a tbsp of the cilantro in a tube from the produce section)
1-2tsp cayenne (optional, if you want it spicier)

Heat the oil on medium in a skillet. Add onion and pepper. Cook until soft.

Turn the heat down a notch or two and add the cheeses. Heat until melty. Keep a eye on it.

Add 1/3rd cup cream or h&h and stir until melted.

Add tomatoes and cilantro. Add more cream/h&h to reach the desired consistency of a cheesy sauce.

Keep warm!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pasta with a Tomato, Basil, and Olive Oil Sauce.

What is quicker than a meal that you don't even have to cook the sauce? As you are waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, you are chopping up some tomatoes and basil, and maybe grating a little cheese. Presto, done.

Pasta with a Tomato, Basil, and Olive Oil Sauce 


1 lb pasta of choice

3 roma tomatoes (or approximate equivalent of grape or cherry tomatoes) diced and most of the seeds removed

2 tbsp chopped basil (if you don't have fresh, a heaping tsp of dried, or a tbsp of this stuff will do)

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil (more if needed)

1/2 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese


Cook pasta according to box directions.

Combine tomatoes and seasonings and let sit while pasta cooks.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Adjust salt and pepper and olive oil as needed.

Serve topped with a little cheese

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pork Chalupa

So I don't know where the term chalupa comes from. To me, it was a taco from Taco Bell. But to my husband, its this shredded pork and pinto bean concoction that you add taco fixins to. And the latter is what we are talking about today. Its a pretty frugal meal if you shop the sales on the meat. You could adapt this to the crock pot as well. I just always make it on the stove for some reason

Pork Chalupa

1 3-4 pound pork roast (butt, shoulder, boneless, bone-in, whatever)
1 lb dried pinto beans
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 cans diced green chilis
salt and pepper to taste

fritos (kind of strongly recommended)
shredded lettuce
sour cream


Look through the beans to make sure there is no stones.

Put the beans, green chilis, and all the spices (no S&P) in the bottom of a large stock pot or dutch oven.

Place the pork on top. Place enough water to almost cover the pork. Leave a inch or two exposed.

Heat until simmering. Don't boil.

Cook for 4-6 hours until meat falls apart and beans are tender

Remove meat and shred. Add back to pot and season with S&P. You will need a LOT as the beans and pork really need some salt.

Serve with all the toppings.

This makes a LOT but it freezes well.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pinwheel Tortilla Rollups

Yummy yummy party food. And its really easy, and quite the crowd pleaser. You do need a little notice for these. They need to chill for a while. I generally do them the night before, and slice the day of. But a couple hours should be ok. I have done it without chilling before. It just doesn't cut as well or stay rolled up as well.

I have 2 variaties I make. I usually make both and do different colored tortillas to differentiate between the types. These recipes make a decent amount. You can half each recipe, or just make one type. But even if there is leftovers, they make a great snack or light fast lunch.

Pinwheel Tortilla Rollups

BLT Rollups:

8 burrito size tortillas
1 pkg 1/3rd cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp ranch seasoning (homemade or store bought) or more
8 pieces bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
2 roma tomatoes (or vine ripened, or quartered grape/cherry) diced
2 cups shredded lettuce

Mix the ranch seasoning, bacon, and tomatoes in with the soft cream cheese.

This is the hard part. The division of the filling between tortillas. I SUCK at this, and usually have very uneven tortillas. BUT thats ok! No one cares but me. So just do your best to eyeball it.

Spread a not too thick, but not too thin layer onto a tortilla. Cover with a light layer of lettuce.

Roll tightly Wrap in plastic wrap and chill several hours to overnight.

When ready to cut, unwrap from plastic and use a sharp knife to cut approx 1/2 inch slices. Place on a platter and keep chilled until you serve.

Veggie Rollups

8 burrito size tortillas
1 pkg 1/3rd cream cheese, softened
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 can diced green chilis, drained well.
3/4 small can chopped black olives
4 green onions, sliced
1 bell pepper (I usually use orange) diced fine
3/4 cup fine shredded cheese, such as colby jack or mexi blend

Mix all the ingredients into the cream cheese. Follow the steps above.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tortellini Tomato Soup

Hey guys. I'm back! After a long long 10 weeks, I think I am emerging from the morning sickness fog. The last few days have been SO much better. Today was rough again, but I am hopeful that I am near the end of the worst days :)

Funny thing is, this soup was a MAJOR aversion for me on my last pregnancy and about a year afterwards. No idea why because its AMAZING. But it was. Husb couldn't even mention it. But he cautiously suggested it a couple weeks back and it actually sounded good.

The recipe came off a group I am in. I tweaked it a bit. Of course. I can't help it. Nice crusty bread goes well with it. It actually got chilly enough in Florida here to make some yummy soup.

Tortellini Tomato Soup

1 20oz package of tortellini. We like 4 cheese, but whatever you prefer really
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 container of chive and onion cream cheese
3 boxes of Pacific Naturals Roasted Red Bell Pepper Bisque or 4 cans tomato bisque soup
1 container chopped spinach, thawed and drained. Or 1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 can of diced tomatoes (optional)

Boil the tortellini in the stock and water according to package. DO NOT drain.

When done, take out a cup or so of the broth. Add it to a small bowl along with the cream cheese. Let the broth soften the cream cheese. Whisk together. Add back to pasta.

Add soup and spinach. Heat completely through.

Serve and smile :)